One of the many questions I receive as a travel agent is: should I pre-book my excursions?
Excursions are not just what you book when on a cruise. Excursions or tours are also what you book when you are staying at a hotel and want to do an activity off the property. There are special cases where you absolutely should pre-book your tours. You wouldn’t go to your favorite artist’s concert and expect to get front row seats on the day of the show, right? Well, the same goes for tours.
You should absolutely buy in advance (before leaving the US) when you are going to places like the Vatican, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum or even when going on a Hawaii helicopter tour. You only have a certain amount of time when visiting these iconic sites, you do not want to waste your time waiting in line. I mentioned Hawaii because I once had a client that refused to pre-book their Hawaii tours before going and was very surprised when there wasn’t availability while they were there.
There are some instances where you cannot or it is not as important to book your excursions in advance. One example is when you are going on a bus to tour, you cannot book your “optional experiences” until you arrive at your destination. The reason for this is because the schedule can change on a bus tour. You can book the tours with your tour director when you arrive. The other instance is when you are staying at an all-inclusive for a week or so. It is not as imperative to book in advance. You can show up and plan your week with a tour operator at your hotel. Of course, if there is something you absolutely MUST do, you should book in advance.
I wanted to mention Walt Disney World vacations in this article as well. Walt Disney World vacations are a different beast all-together. In order to have a smooth running vacation, you must pre-plan your dining and your Fast passes. If you showed up to a sit-down restaurant at Disney and you do not have a reservation, chances are you will not get seated. The same goes for Fast Passes on the rides. You need to book everything well in advance. Dining reservations open up 180 days prior to your check-in date and if you are staying on property, the Fast Pass+ opens up 60 days prior to your check-in date.
As in many things in life, if it is really important to you, plan for it. Plan in advance for your activities and you will not be disappointed in your vacation.